Certified Registered Nurse Renee Carver takes a lot of pride in what she does. It’s one of the reasons she actively precepts nursing students and also was a motivating factor in her decision to pursue nursing board certification a few years ago. Board certification is the formal process through the American Nurses Credentialing Center that provides patients and families with validation that the nurse caring for them has demonstrated experience, knowledge and skills in the complex specialty of clinical care.
“Certification validates your expertise and helps give you confidence in your specialty area,” Renee said. “It’s a great step for those who aren’t ready to go back to school for their master’s or advanced practitioner degree, yet still want to feel like they’re practicing to their fullest potential.”
Today Renee, a member of the float pool, and her University of Akron nursing student, Kristina Peters, are on the infant/toddler unit, where census is high and the floor is bustling with activity.
“I love being a float nurse,” said Renee. “It’s something new every day. I take care of kids of different ages and diagnoses and it’s given me a lot of experience and knowledge to pass on to my students.”
Renee, who started her Akron Children’s career on the unit at Aultman Hospital more than 3 years ago, has been working on the Akron campus for a little more than 2 years.
“I lived in Canton so Aultman was close to home,” she said. “But after 8 months I was ready to expand my horizons and see more complex cases.”
Her cases today include a 3-year-old child with undiagnosed gastrointestinal issues, a 7-month-old baby with RSV, and 2-week-old Esteban, who was transferred to Akron from St. Joseph Warren Hospital 2 days ago.
According to Esteban’s mom, Jennifer, he was throwing up all his feedings and losing weight. Upon the advice of her pediatrician, she kept him upright after feedings and waited to burp him, but she grew increasingly concerned when his condition worsened and took him to St. Joseph’s ER. An ultrasound indicated he had pyloric stenosis, a condition that affects 3 out 1,000 babies in the U.S. It prevents food from emptying out of the stomach, causing forceful vomiting, dehydration and salt and fluid imbalances.
“This morning Esteban underwent a surgical procedure which involved cutting through the thickened muscles of the pylorus to relieve the blockage,” explained Renee. “We’re giving him vitamins and Nexium to help reduce the amount of acid produced in his stomach.”
Renee uses the medication administration as a teaching opportunity, showing Kristina how to program the Nexium through Esteban’s IV pump.
“I remember being in nursing school and being afraid of the nurses,” Renee said. “I felt this vibe that maybe they didn’t want us there, and I don’t want our students to ever feel that way. It’s one of the reasons it’s important to me to precept.”
Kristina is the fourth student Renee has precepted. While she readily admits it’s a time commitment, it also has added perks for the float pool.
“When we’re picking assignments in the morning, I usually get my pick based on places my student still hasn’t been,” she said. “Lately we’ve been in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) a lot so we got first dibs on the infant/toddler unit today.”
In addition to being a float nurse, Renee is also an Epic trainer — an electronic health record (EHR) system — and spends 2 Tuesdays a month in orientation training new hires how to use Epic. She also spends 3 weeks in April working with Epic trainers, clinical coordinators and primary preceptors improving documentation.
When Renee receives word she’s getting a new patient from the PICU, she also learns his family only speaks Arabic.
“We use a service through the iPad for translation,” she explains. “I call a phone number and tell them what language I need an interpreter for and they connect me via Facetime. The interpreter then translates the conversation between the family and me.”
Renee cites managing her time as the most challenging part of her job.
“Since I can float at any time, it’s helpful for me to always stay as caught up as I can on my charting and medication orders,” she says. “Sometimes it’s hard because I’d love to be able to have a 20-minute conversation with mom or dad, but usually time doesn’t allow for it.”
As for her proudest achievement to date, Renee says it was becoming certified.
“I had to take 16 hours of class time, but since I also do C.A.R.E. Ladder (Career Achievement and Recognition of Excellence Program) that was 16 hours of paid education,” she says. “I took the review course over the summer and then studied for a few months before sitting for the exam. It was a lot of material review of normal development, which was good for someone like me who sees a lot of kids with complex histories.”
Over the years she’s seen her share of sad cases and difficult family situations, but she’s thankful to have co-workers she can talk to.
“We can all relate to what each other is going through,” she said. “This job can be physically and emotionally tiring, so it’s vital to have hobbies outside of work to help you relax and debrief. It’s important to take care of myself too, so I can provide the best care possible for my patients.”